Iowa men's basketball camp underway

BY JACOB SHEYKO | JUNE 19, 2013 5:00 AM

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The walls inside the Field House reverberated with the squeaks of basketball sneakers and the high-pitched tones of whistles early Tuesday morning. If one were merely listening, the room would sound as if the Iowa men’s basketball team were in the midst of a practice.

Instead, 240 kids, ranging from third- to sixth-graders, were inside the gym taking shots and playing games. This was the beginning of the Iowa Basketball Day Camp. Joining the kids at the camp were members of the Iowa men’s basketball team — both players and coaches.

The emphasis of the camp, according to the man in charge, is mostly on the campers’ technique.

“The important thing is to learn the fundamentals at a young age,” Iowa men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery said. “So it’s dribbling, passing, shooting, and basic defensive concepts so that they can go home and practice those things that they’ve learned.”

Tuesday’s regimen started off with free shooting and stretching, followed by a few ball-handling drills, both led by McCaffery. Afterwards, the camp participants were placed in several stations that stressed different skills.

Twelve-year-old camp participant Drew Hartwig took to the drills and learned something he didn’t previously know.

“They taught me that when you pass, you have to keep your thumbs down,” said Hartwig.

McCaffery noted that the coaches approach kids of varying ages with different points of emphasis. As kids get older, he said, they learn to master the simple fundamental skills.

More experienced players were taught more intricate skills, such as moving without the basketball, cutting, and pivoting.

In addition to the skills the Iowa men’s basketball team taught the camp participants, the team was also provided with the opportunity to connect with the community and their fans.

“When kids can go home and tell their parents, ‘Hey I was coached today by Aaron White,’ that’s a big deal,” McCaffery said. “It’s something that we take very seriously, and Aaron [White] takes very seriously and makes sure these young kids go home and feel really good about themselves and our program.”

White, a junior to be on the men’s basketball team, said he enjoys the camps and interacting with the camp participants.

“I think it is fun for the kids,” he said. “They watch us at home and are obviously all big basketball fans, and for us to be here and interact with them and work with them is fun for them. It’s fun for us, too.”

One of those fans was 12-year-old camper Joey Molony who enjoyed meeting some of the Hawkeyes.

“It’s pretty cool, because when you see them play in their games, you know that you’ve met them in person,” he said.

The camp will conclude on Thursday with awards being handed out to the participants, which, in McCaffery’s eyes, will be another opportunity to interact with their supporters.

“On Thursday, they’ll sign stuff, they’ll take pictures with siblings and parents,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for young people who want to get better, but who also are fans, to be involved with our program first-hand. And I think that’s really important.”

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